Scandinavia’s largest telco TeliaSonera [Nasdaq:TLSN] has announced net sales of EUR2.198 billion for the first three months of 2003, a rise of 3.6% on the corresponding period of 2002 on a pro-forma basis. The company, which was formed late last year following the merger of Swedish operator Telia and its Finnish counterpart Sonera, said its mobile subsidiaries in Norway, Denmark, the Baltics and Eurasia helped drive the growth and offset weak performances by its Finnish and Swedish subsidiaries. EBITDA increased by 15% to EUR817 million, thanks mainly to narrowing losses at its International Carrier operations and a 37% reduction in capex to EUR181 million, although net income fell considerably from EUR419 million to EUR181 million due mainly to the writedown of minority assets. The group’s net debt fell by EUR370 million to EUR3.75 billion during the period.
In April 2003 TeliaSonera agreed to sell its Swedish cable TV business Com Hem to venture capital company EQT Northern Europe for approximately EUR230 million. The divestiture was one of the commitments made by Telia in order for its merger with Sonera to be cleared by the European Commission and the anti-trust authorities. By the end of March 2003 TeliaSonera boasted 10.8 million cellular subscribers across its numerous operating subsidiaries, up from 10.59 million at the end of 2002, with 6.12 million customers connected to its networks in Sweden and Finland. At the same date it claimed 1.9 million internet customers, up from 1.8 million three months previously, and 7.97 million fixed line subscribers, down from 8.1 million.